Sunday, December 31, 2006

Saturday night, Shabbos was over an hour ago, I'm waiting for the shemesh to heat up the water so I can do the stacks and stacks of dishes, there's homework to be done for ulpan tomorrow, and I'm just going to sit here and blog for awhile. How's that?

I only went to ulpan one day last week, so I have a feeling there's a lot to catch up on. Last motzei Shabbos I started to get a sore throat and by the end of the evening it felt like the top layer of my throat had been stripped away. I slept 11 hours that night! After a couple of days the nose stopped running and the throat felt better, and I went to class on Tuesday morning. Then - there were predictions of actual snow in Israel! It was so exciting! We were checking all the weather sites and they said it was to be the biggest storm of the last decade. It was really good news because up to now, from at least July 6 when we arrived here (and probably a good 3 months before then), there had been exactly 2 periods of rain (and we're not talking about full days, either). David thought it was funny that I wasn't studying Tuesday night; he couldn't believe I was hoping for a snow day! As it turned out, Yerushalayim got about 4 inches and we just got extremely heavy downpours off and on from very early Wednesday morning (starting around 2 AM) until late Wednesday night. So I didn't go to school because I wasn't about to pay for a cab and I wasn't going to walk a mile in the rain after just having had a sore throat. I heard only 4 people initially showed up and a few more trickled in, and they let everyone out early so I don't think I missed much. So it's actually been like 2 full weeks off (because of Chanukah the week before) and it will be hard to go back tomorrow. On Thursday morning, David called me to back to his office and pointed out the window. In the distance, near Beitar, we could see all the hills covered with snow! It was so pretty! We hadn't been able to see it the day before with all the clouds and rain. Today it felt like it was in the 60's, but someone said there may be more snow in the near future.

It's now 11 pm. Besides doing a mountain of dishes and finishing (almost all) my homework, I got a call from Tefilla, from the organization I worked for 3 days before ulpan started. She had an interesting proposition for me that David and I will have to think over very carefully before making a decision. But right now I have to shower and get to bed. More tomorrow.

It's tomorrow. Wasn't that quick? Ulpan was so much fun today! It was kind of cold and rainy, plus it was a fast day (the 10th of Tevet), but I dutifully trudged my way over to the matnas where I showed up exactly on time for class and was the only one there. We eventually got up to 8 people and it was actually (surprisingly!) a really fun day. Sarah, our morah, is frum and she frequently ties in things that we're learning with Torah. The whole first hour we talked about the difference between the words "emet" (truth) and sheker (falsehood) and how Hakodesh Boruch Hu (Hashem) is truly emet. Tied to the that was the reason for the fast day (Nebuchednezzer - probably spelled wrong - was the king of Babylon, whose army breached the walls of Yerushalayim and tore down our first Temple on this day which started a 70 year exile of the Jewish People from the Holy Land. He even spent 500 million dollars in the 80's trying to reconstruct the original Babylon and had 60 million gold bricks put in the throne room of the palace of Nebuchednezzer praising the ancient king). So think about this. Saddam Hussein was hanged yesterday. Who else was hanged? Haman, another evil guy. But get this - Hussein publicly likened himself to Nebuchednezzer throughout his "reign.". And where was he from? Iraq was Babylon! And just as Haman sought to destroy us and was hanged, Hussein got his just 'reward.' Only in Israel do you get a great dvar Torah while you're learning the language!

Near the end of class, we sat in groups and had to write a dialogue about giving directions. Ellen and I were laughing so hard and being really silly (that's what hunger pains can do to you). We were so proud of ourselves for our conversation because we used lots of verbs in atid (future) tense, and when we read it for Sarah she was impressed except that we really had only talked about going to the supermarket together and not about HOW to get there. So we started over and we got to present ours to the class first. It started off with me asking, "Ellen, effo anachnu?" which means "Where are we?" We had everyone laughing and she let us out a few minutes early. I know, I know - you had to be there. I wish some of you were! Here, I mean.

One of you is. It's almost 4 PM and when David comes home from mincha/maariv, he's bringing home Rabbi Greenwald, who I worked with at Aish in St. Louis and who's here in Israel for a little over a week. We haven't even seen him yet, but he's coming to break the fast with us. I can't wait to see him.

We had 2 other St. Louisans staying with us for Shabbos; it was really nice. A woman and her high school son had come to spend a couple of weeks with her older son who's in yeshiva here in Ramat Beit Shemesh. We had them for both meals, and the family downstairs (Coco's family) with the 3 year old twins also came Friday night. I think Emma enjoyed the company, once she stopped barking at them. She might be small, but she has a mighty bark, especially when people invade her territory. Of course, when Yakira and Hadar came in, she didn't stop licking them and climbing all over them all evening, which they loved.

I can't get warm. This is probably the coldest day we've had so far since we've lived here. In fact, in all the times we visited Israel, we must have dodged any real winter days, because I've never felt this cold in Israel before - and I've been here in December, January and February. We definitely need this rain, but the wind we can do without. Probably I'm just cold because I haven't eaten today. I don't have a problem fasting and this is a pretty short fast, but I'm looking forward to some very hot split pea soup in a couple of hours.

So, you're probably thinking I won't even remember that I started to write about Tefilla's phone call last night. My memory is getting much better these days (also I just re-read the blog to look for typos...). Anyway, she had previously called me before Shabbos to ask if I was interested in working for one of her fundraisers by making calls to the US. Yad Ezra V'Shulamit advertises on the internet and they get a lot of donations that way. My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to call the donors from the US personally and thank them for their donation, and then shmooze with them a little and get to know them. Then I call them back 3 more times during the year, sometimes just to keep in touch and sometimes to solicit them again. I get an hourly rate (extremely low) and a commission for anything I bring in over the initial amount. But then she called last night with a proposition to use a room in our apartment as an office for me and 2 of the fundraisers (both rabbis) who live in RBS. They both have large families and noisy homes, and going into the office in the evening wastes a lot of time (we have to call during American hours - 4 PM - midnight). The organization would put in the 2 extra phone lines to the states, and pay us "whatever's fair" for the use of our home. We can't come to a decision. It would only be probably Sunday and Monday evenings, but David wouldn't have much privacy because we have a small apartment and we'd have to set them up at the dining room table. Plus I can't make phone calls if there are other people in the room talking (or listening).

Guess what? It's about 5 hours later and I'm just getting back to this blog. We had a really nice meal with the rabbi, and David walked him back to where he's staying. It was so nice to see him.

We're not going to make our home into an office, we decided. I'm going to make the phone calls one night a week, but that's about it. After ulpan we'll see if I go into the office or look for something closer to home. Hopefully, David will have a good job by then...

We keep forgetting to turn the shemesh on to heat up some water, so we can't shower or even wash the dishes for awhile. Guess I'll have to say my daily tehillim now. I sure would love to hear from some of you folks back home (former home). Maybe you could just leave me a little note to say hi? I miss you!

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